Thursday, February 9, 2017

Our 5th year of Science on Tap continues!

Thanks to the continued support of UNM, Explora and the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History


 A time to eat, drink & talk about science!

on Central is our new home 

Join us Thursday, March 2 at 5:30!

How Safe is Safe?
A Water Engineer's Perspective on Water and Public Risk


Bruce M Thomson, Ph.D., P.E.

Professor Emeritus and Research Professor
Department of Civil Engineering

University of New Mexico


Life is filled with all sorts of risks, some are voluntary like rock climbing and smoking, while others are involuntary like breathing the air and being struck by lightning.  The first canon in the professional engineers’ code of ethics states that engineers “shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public” but it gives no guidance on what level of safety is expected.  Achieving zero risk for most activities is virtually impossible, so what are acceptable levels of risk and who makes those decisions?  Water poses both voluntary and involuntary risks to humans.  Two of the most recognized involuntary risks are health risks from contaminants in drinking water and threats to life and property from flooding.  This talk will discuss what level of risk has been determined to be acceptable for each situation, how this determination was made, and consider some of the factors that may influence whether the goal is being met and at what cost.
Then, after we’ve all consumed an adult beverage or two, we’ll head home and test the transportation risks on the Albuquerque road system.

Bruce Thomson is Professor Emeritus and Research Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of New Mexico.  He served as Director of UNM’s Water Resources Program from 2005 to 2013.  He has recently been re-elected to a 6 year term and is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA).  He has been at UNM since the late Pleistocene epoch and is among the last practicing engineers in the state who still knows how to use a slide rule.